A Great Comparison of Shooting Film Versus Digital

There's a lot said about film versus digital, and a lot of it tends to be one extreme or the other, but like most things in life, the truth lies somewhere in the middle. This great video takes a very balanced and honest look at the merits and drawbacks of each when used in a fashion shoot.

Coming to you from Anita Sadowska, this video follows her as she works alongside Photographer Alex Hutchinson on a fashion shoot, alternating between shooting film and digital. I really appreciated the video because they're careful to keep the shots and lighting similar to make direct comparisons easier, and they're both very measured and balanced in evaluating the advantages and disadvantages of both. Personally, I still love shooting with my Fuji GW690 III (affectionately called the "Texas Leica" by film shooters), but I would also never take it on most paid shoots. That doesn't diminish my enjoyment of working with it, though. In this video, you'll see Sadowska shooting with a Canon 5D Mark IV with the EF 100mm f/2.8L Macro IS lens, while Hutchinson shoots with a Pentax 67 II medium format camera (which produces negatives almost five times larger than a full frame camera) with a 105mm f/2.4 lens. 

[via Anita Sadowska]

Log in or register to post comments

30 Comments

Young people are hilarious!!! Yes I am old.

This is how it just was, as a working professional, if you couldn't get the shot in a roll or two (12 for 6x6 or 15 for 6x45), consider another career. If you were shooting a "Lookbook" (google it if you don't know what it is) you could be shooting a 100 garments in a day, there was no shooting 134 images to get the shot.

Priceless.

Why blame ppl who had nothing to do with the technology of their time?

Were you confident when you first started shooting on film? I know I wasnt, it took me a year to get to know my camera, to know the film of my choice and how light played with both. Then there was the darkroom. It was a lot of trial and error and quite expensive to make mistakes.

I would expect the younger generations to be proficient with the technology of their time. I would not expect them to be proficient with archiac technology that they have the luxury of avoiding, let alone be comfortable.

Do you know anything about shooting with the cameras built in the late 1800's early 1900's? Should we question or mock your professionalism if you don't?

It's nice to have a working knowledge of film cameras but it's nothing to beat anyone over the head with. And if you think that gives you somekind of edge or advantage think again. Honestly, it just makes you sound like a insufferable person to work with.

Not only did I shoot with film, I loaded it in canisters in complete darkness, processed it, and then took it into the very manual darkroom to expose it and bath it in chemicals you can literally create a bomb with.

I do not miss it one damn bit. If I had the option of digital then I would have easily chose it over killing the few remaining brain cells I had, not to mention my wallet.

Honestly, I think compared to today's digital sensors film looks like utter shit unless you're shooting on 50 or 100 in medium format. You can easily replicate emulsion in post.

I know these statements will probably piss off a few diehards, but it is what it is. I see what I see. Film was the solution to the technology of it's time, and I have no immediate plans to drive a horse and buggy any time soon. Let it go already. Save the environment. I'm looking at YOU Kodak.

Perhaps the standard is higher these days post film in the commercial environment. Consider also that perhaps there is more experimentation which justifies the 134 images taken to get the shot.

Also I think you'll find that in a photography studio which is shooting 100 garments a day there aren't 134 image taken of each of them. It's more like setup, style, shoot and repeat.

You would be surprised. I used to work in a large setup (8 photographers) that had a large department store as a client and there were a few guys who would shoot 100+ per garment. The digital techs hated them, can't imagine why.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Jason, the key word you used is "was" .

I guess my point was that if you are actually any good you shouldn't need or want to shoot 100+ photos to get a keeper. Outrageous concept I know.

Alex Cooke's picture

Yes, it's absolutely hilarious to shoot with! I have a big head, and it looks comically large even in front my noggin. But yes, the negatives out of it are gorgeous. And I grew up shooting film until I was about 20, so there's a nostalgia factor for me, I guess. Anyway, I don't mind the extra hassles and cost (as long as I budget it out) of film. Isn't the GA645 the one with the flipped orientation?

Not only did I shoot with film, I loaded it in canisters in complete darkness, processed it, and then took it into the very manual darkroom to expose it and bath it in chemicals you can literally create a bomb with.

I do not miss it one damn bit. If I had the option of digital then I would have easily chose it over killing the few remaining brain cells I had, not to mention my wallet.

Honestly, I think compared to today's digital sensors film looks like utter shit unless you're shooting on 50 or 100 in medium format. You can easily replicate emulsion in post.

I know these statements will probably piss off a few diehards, but it is what it is. I see what I see. Film was the solution to the technology of it's time, and I have no immediate plans to drive a horse and buggy any time soon. Let it go already. Save the environment. I'm looking at YOU Kodak

Why shoot the Pentax 6x7 horizontally to crop the image vertically?
The young woman doesn't know how to use a light meter?

Alex Cooke's picture

I don't know if the Pentax has a second tripod thread, but he mentions he uses it on a tripod because of the weight, and I'm guessing if it doesn't have a second thread, 6x7 is close enough to square that he'd rather have the stability than the slight gain along the other dimension.

The weight is a killer that's for sure. I remember attending a wedding and the Photog was using the Pentax 67 around her neck. Gawd! And then there's the noise each time you take a shot - KERCHUNK!!

I actually love the KERCHUNK sound of my Mamiya RB67 Pro S.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

I have at least 3 or 4 light meters around here including flash meters. I use them once or twice every couple years. Why not just use the tools that are available in today's cameras like really accurate metering, histograms, tethered connection and the Play button to confirm or fine tune the exposure.
Not sure why spending $200-$300 or more for a gadget that is only needed by 5% of digital shooters is so often promoted by some people around here.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I agree that for most casual shooters a light meter is overkill, but when balancing multiple light sources, especially flashes, they come in handy.

Dan Howell's picture

What about this comparison video makes it 'great'? This barely scratched the surface and done by people who demonstrate or admit that they don't know much about the process. Tepid results from a limited scope of shooting (all natural window light). No information about black and white processing. Scanning instead of printing. Negative film instead of chrome film. And on...

A more accurate title would be A Banal Comparison of Shooting Film Versus Digital.

Alex Cooke's picture

It's almost like the limited scope would indicate that it's meant to be a survey of the two mediums for people who may be uninitiated in one or both of them and don't have time for a comprehensive course. You don't go to a survey course on music and complain about the lack of Franz Berwald.

Mr Hogwallop's picture

Did i hear him say he was going to under expose the tri-x...? If so that deserves an explanation, I'd like ot know why.

Hans Rosemond's picture

I think he was saying he’s under exposing in camera. Probably because he didn’t have enough light. I imagine he will ask his lab to push.

Aaron Bratkovics's picture

Why does he keep using that temperature reader to the window? Channel 2.8?? Is he seeing how cool or warm the final the image will be?

I think that the two processes should live symbiotically. i recently picked up my Hasselblad 500c/m after years in storage. the interesting thing about going back to these methods is it helps you slow down. It helps you take better compositions and helps you make more conscious decisions about the image you take because you know the cost. I think all digital photographers need to learn film first to get a better foundation for when they do create digital images.

Jarrett Hunt's picture

Not sure why all the hate. I love shooting film! I liked that video, even though I found things a bit odd.

What hate?

As my dad is lying in a hospital bed fighting for his life, I'm sitting here reading these articles while waiting for visiting hours. It strikes me that I am glad that I started shooting film again. I have negatives and prints of my father. Images that will last for a long time. I then remember that I have images from my dad's parents, of my dad when he was a child. With all the film bashing, I have to say, I'm glad we had and still have film. At some point, these will be the only items I have to remember him. And I am really glad they aren't stuck on some technology that can't be retrieved because they were never printed. My advice for what little it is worth is to get your memories off the computer and off the phone or they will be lost. And quit quibbling on here about film or digital. Who cares how the image was created. Just create it and cherish it.

Alex Cooke's picture

So sorry to hear about your father, Donna.

Thank you, Alex.

I turned off image review on my Canon 5D III. I started with shooting with film in 1980. I wish that my 5D has a split-image/microprism like my Canon A-1 and New F-1 since I have had to manually focus my 5D on occasion.

Honestly, the only reason I shoot film sometimes is because I like the Kodak portra skin tones. All my other favorites are dead... Rip provia 400x and e100g

Not sure why you were comparing color images to black and white...

Im film maker. I have been to Film school from last 20 years. Instead of going to Film school, we can concentrate on improving skills to make better films. You can watch all latest movies and TV shows on Terrarium TV app. Download it from http://terrariumtvofficial.com/